Monday, October 29, 2012
As originally published in the October 26, 2102 edition of the Summerville Journal Scene
John McKissick is out to found the 600 Club, but he has to go through the Swamp Foxes if he is going to do it this week.
The legendary Green Wave football coach is already one of the very few coaches at any level to have surpassed the 500-coaching wins benchmark. With a win over Colleton County last week during Summerville’s homecoming game he pulled within a win of the 600-wins mark that no one has met.
The significance of his next game has been the talk of the town, but both McKissick and his opponent this week say their focus is elsewhere.
“Summerville has extra motivation but I have not had to discuss it with our team because the players already know,” said Ashley Ridge coach Kenny Walker, who will lead the Swamp Foxes into battle against Summerville Friday. “We have goals we have set for ourselves and we are more focused on those. Our team understands there will be a big crowd on hand and we will try not to get caught up with the distractions that come with it.”
McKissick has fielded a lot of calls this week from an array of people ranging from national TV personalities to college football coaches who wanted to talk to him about the milestone or wish him good luck in the game, which will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. at Ashley Ridge High School. But he says unless someone asks, he doesn’t bring up the subject.
“I like to stay away from it,” he said. “I haven’t mentioned it to the players because they already know. Our defense played pretty good last week, but we weren’t focused in that game. I don’t want to do anything that takes their focus off what we are doing in practice.”
So what are the coaches telling their players?
“Summerville doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and they are very disciplined,” Walker said. “It will take a total team effort for us to have a chance. We will need to tackle in space well on defense and keep everything in front—not give up the big play. We will have to get a couple of turnovers and not have a bunch of penalties. I feel this could be a game of field position so hopefully we can be sound with our special teams.”
The respect is mutual.
“I always try to be honest with the players and I’m telling them this will be a tough game,” McKissick said. “Really it’s a toss up. Ashley Ridge is well coached and they have all the same skill guys they had last year when the beat us. They run a lot of misdirection so our defense has its work cut out for it. Offensively, we will have to get out there and play well and not put the ball on the ground.”
The schools have only met twice on the gridiron.
In 2010, Summerville handed the Swamp Foxes a 35-0 loss in their first meeting. Ashley Ridge earned a 36-21 victory last season en route to claiming its first Region 8-AAAA football championship.
“Summerville’s offense is much more balanced this year than last year,” Walker said. “They get the ball to a number of different people which puts stress on the defense. The Summerville defense plays very physical and the are fast to the ball.”
Summerville enters this year’s cross-town showdown with a 5-4 record and a 3-0 mark in the region. Ashley Ridge is 3-6 with a 2-1 mark in the region.
Summerville has been outscored by its opponents 215 points to 213 this season. Ashley Ridge has been outscored 279-173. The teams share wins over West Ashley, Colleton County and Beaufort and share losses to Goose Creek, Wando, Stratford and Cane Bay.
Contact Roger Lee @ 873-9424 ext. 213 or firstname.lastname@example.org